Memories of the ‘greatest mom ever’

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, May 9, 2013

I was sitting in the school office. I must not have been very old because my feet were dangling above the floor as I sat on a bench and waited for my mother.

I wasn’t in trouble, just waiting. My mother is a teacher at the school I grew up in. I don’t remember why I was waiting, but I do remember when I stopped.

My mother, who only stands 5-foot, 2-inches, came bursting through the door carrying an injured second-grader in her arms. She laid him down on a bench and a school secretary came with the first aid kit.

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At that moment, I remember thinking that my mom was the greatest mom ever. She looked like a superhero.

My mom, I’m not afraid to say, has been my best friend for years. She taught me to be compassionate to animals. She showed me how to be kind to people who didn’t look like me. She talked to me about education. Although she’s quiet and shy, she gave me the self-confidence to be outgoing. When money was tight, I never knew it. She went without new clothes and extras so that my brother and I never had to. She taught me to play baseball. She taught me to dribble a basketball. She took me for ice cream when I didn’t want to talk and just needed to cry. She repaired my prom dress five minutes before we walked out the door. She taught me to love and respect God and the whole world He has given us. She’s nursed me. She’s held my hand. She’s always on my side.

And while she’s given all of that to me, she’s given her love to countless other children, too.

This is my mother’s forty-second year as a teacher. It’s also her last. The room that has been hers for decades – with signature bright blue window shades that match the paint on old wooden chairs – will belong to someone else.

It makes me sad to think that that part of her life is ending. But I am extremely proud of her, and happy that she will get to take a much-needed rest after so many years.

She said to me not long ago that she wonders how much her former students remember her. That’s an easy answer. I’ve seen men in their 40s tackle hug her small frame in public. And I remember, vividly, one instance that distinctly shows how much she means to her students, past and present.

Rewind to the year my brother was in second-grade. He wasn’t in mom’s class, but a boy he would spend the next 10 years in school with was. The kid was mean to his classmates. He was trouble. He didn’t mind. And between dealing with him and his mother, Mom was drinking a few bottles of Mylanta a week. But Mom never treated him differently than the other students. She loved him. She always did love the trouble makers.

Fast forward to that class’ senior year. There he was in her doorway, teary eyed. The young man that had caused so much headache and heartache had come back to my mother when his heart was aching. He’d found out he wasn’t going to graduate, so he made the decision to drop out of school and join the military. He had come to tell my mother because he knew she would stand beside him when he went to the office to fill out paperwork. And she did. But not before hugging him until the tears were gone.

I was right as a child, sitting in the office, swinging my feet and waiting on my mother. She is the greatest mom, and the greatest teacher, I have ever met. And one day, when I am a mother, I pray that I can provide my child half that love and support that she has given me.

Happy retirement and happy Mother’s Day, Helen Brooks. I love you.